The Market Revolution, Industrialization, and New Technologies

Start Free Trial

What were Karl Marx's and Max Weber's views on the Industrial Revolution?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Both of these two sociologists viewed the Industrial Revolution as a necessary improvement in the state of technology and its effect on society. Without it, these men rationalized, the masses would be subjugated in a feudal society for all time. The industrial revolution gave the nations an opportunity to improve...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Both of these two sociologists viewed the Industrial Revolution as a necessary improvement in the state of technology and its effect on society. Without it, these men rationalized, the masses would be subjugated in a feudal society for all time. The industrial revolution gave the nations an opportunity to improve wealth and access to goods in a much more far-reaching and widespread manner than had ever been possible before.

Karl Marx believed, in fact, that Industrialization would lead to socialism, because with the advent of technologies that would rapidly offer goods and services, he believed that there would be no need for capitalism, since everyone would have access to what they needed. He also believed that the proletariat would tire of the deplorable working conditions in factories and would rise up in revolution. In this way, industrialization would one day lead to a socialist system.

Weber believed that it was a necessary step to the improvement of society because there was so much poverty and destitution, but he had slightly different views. He believed the Industrial Revolution offered people the chance at enlightenment and linked it heavily with the Protestant Reformation, believing that after having their needs met, individuals were less dependent on the Catholic Church or fiefdom leaders who would subjugate them. Industrialization would empower them and allow them the chance to achieve greater spiritual understanding.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I would add that Marx viewed the industrial revolution and Capitalism as a necessary stage of development—one that would develop the means of production, but at a price that would ultimately lead to Socialism and transfer of the means of production from the Capitalists to the Proletariat. Marx's view of the Industrial Revolution was one of economic primacy (a materialist understanding of social development and change). Weber looked at the issue through cultural primacy and the role of the Protestant reformation and tried to explain the economic development of Northern Europe (primarily the U.K. and Germany) versus that of Southern and Eastern Europe. Today the materialist or "marxist" approach is far more influential in the social sciences than that of Weber, but Weber is still studied and critiqued.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team